Joey Mantilla grew up on the water. Like his father and grandfather, he's made fishing his livelihood, bringing in and selling close to 500 pounds of fish and lobster per day. He is one of the only 40-something fishermen based on the Miami River. Eighty percent or so of them are in their 60s, and as Joey tells us "It's hard work and it has to be in your blood." So there are not a lot of newcomers to this honorable profession.
Rain or shine, the Mantilla boat goes out every morning around 4.30 a.m. and scatters close to 400 traps from Miami Beach to Key Largo. Joey started out by helping his father part-time and on weekends while working as a mechanic, store clerk, or delivery man during the week. A born entrepreneur, Joey saw an opportunity and began selling his catch out of his truck on evenings and weekends. He went by his old stomping grounds and sold to employees at auto shops, cafeterias, and office buildings where customers were clamoring to get their hands on his fresh bounty. The demand grew. "It's all word of mouth, I can't afford to advertise....yet!" but Joey became swamped earlier this year, so he quit his day job and went full-time into fishing.
Now, in addition to his delivery route, Joey has a regular gig. He parks his truck Monday through Friday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the corner of the Palmetto and 47th Avenue.
So what's in store for this seafood entrepreneur? "I want to grow my business so that I can open a seafood market and restaurant." Joey's Seafood Market & Restaurant may be a few years away, but we got a preview and were able to snag a few lobsters that we prepared according to his recipe to make our weekend barbecue just a little more sophisticated!
To contact Joey's Seafood call 786-768-6430 or email.
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Joey's Lobster on the Grill
4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tbsp butter
salt and pepper
In a small pan, melt 1/2 the butter with 2 cloves of the minced garlic.
Butterfly the lobster (we did it on the wrong side and ruined the shell, so don't follow our picture lead!), and spread the rest of the garlic and butter down the middle of each.
Brush the grill with some melted butter mixture and then put the lobsters on the grill, shell side down, cover with aluminum foil and grill for 10 minutes.
Flip the lobsters and brush with butter/garlic mixture and grill for a few more minutes until the shells are bright red.